Ubuntu – How to back up files without live disk


I recently upgraded to 13.10. The installation seemed to run fine, after the system rebooted I got the error "The system is running in low-graphics mode” After a few hours of googling no solution I found fixed this problem.

I tried to downgrade using a disk and got the same error after installation. I then tried to back up my files using the disk by selecting "try ubuntu".

I really need to recover my data, I have weeks worth of work on there and some bitcoin I cannot afford to lose.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Best Answer

If you cannot get any advanced graphics running, but you still can log in and use the terminal of your installed Ubuntu, do the following to save your data:

method 1

  • start the computer, connect an external drive to store the backup

First you have to find out the exact drivename and mountpoint of the external drive:

  • start a terminal and type lsblk

You will see a list of drives and their partitions; your external drive will be listed as well and you will have its exact name and mountpoint(it will probably be mounted in /media).

  • type in the terminal: cp -r /home/yourname /mountpoint/drivename to copy your data to the external drive.

method 2 (yet) using the live usb or cd

  • Connect an external drive to store the backup
  • Boot from a live cd or the live usb
  • Find out what the mountpoint is of the external drive like in method 1 (lsblk)

The harddrive of your computer and its partitions will be listed as well, but will not be mounted.

  • Make an educated guess on which partition your data is stored (you will probably recognize it by its size).
  • Mount the partition by the command sudo mount /dev/sda1 /mnt (sda1 = for example) check if you mounted the right partition; cd to /mnt and type ls to see if your datafolder (I assume your username) is listed. if not, mount another partition and repeat the procedure.

Then you have all information to do the backup:

  • type after the prompt: cp -r /mnt/home/your_username/mountpoint/drivename` ) And your home directory will be copied to the external drive.
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